Face Recognition, Amazon’s Ultimate Step on Rekognition
di Chiara Rossi
Amazon has indefinitely banned the use of its facial recognition software, Rekognition, by US police
Ban on use of Amazon Rekognition facial recognition technology by the police “until further notice”.
On Tuesday, Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce giant announced on Tuesday that it is extending until further notice a moratorium it imposed last year on the use by the police of its facial recognition software. Reuters brought him back.
Like Amazon, Microsoft had also announced that it would suspend the sale of its technology to the police until the United States passed a law regulating its use. Different the position of IBM, definitively exited from the field of facial recognition last year.
The positions were taken at a time when technology companies are facing greater control over their contracts with the police. In the background the repressions by the police of the protests of the Black Lives Matter movements in June 2020.
Civil liberties advocates have long warned that an inaccurate face-to-face confrontation by law enforcement could lead to unjust arrests. Not to mention less privacy protection.
The Seattle tech giant did not comment on the reason for its decision. Even in Italy there is discussion about the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement. The Privacy Authority recently rejected the use of the Sari Real Time facial recognition system by the Ministry of the Interior. And MP Filippo Sensi has filed a bill calling for a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies in public places.
AMAZON’S DECISION ON REKOGNITION
The e-commerce giant will stop the police from using their facial recognition software indefinitely.
Amazon offers facial recognition with “Rekognition”, a service of its cloud computing division. Customers who rely on the program to find victims of human trafficking still have access to facial recognition features, the Seattle group said.
THE MORATORIUM OF LAST YEAR
Last year, Amazon had suspended use in the hope that Congress would enact rules to ensure the ethical use of technology. In the meantime, no such law has been enacted.
LAW ENFORCEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES RELYING ON FACIAL RECOGNITION
An unknown number of police departments are using facial recognition systems to track down potential suspects, as CNN reported. Although technology has proven to be less accurate in identifying black people.
PRESSURE FROM PRIVACY ACTIVISTS
This month Amazon also received calls from activists who wanted the software ban to be permanent.
Nathan Freed Wessler of the American Civil Liberties Union expressed support for Amazon’s move and called on federal and state governments to ban the use of software by law enforcement.
“Facial recognition technology feeds the excessive surveillance of black and brown communities, and has already led to false arrests and unlawful imprisonments of more black men,” a note reads. “Now, the Biden administration and legislatures across the country need to further protect communities from the dangers of this technology by ending its use by law enforcement, regardless of the company that sells it.”, pointed out Nathan Freed Wessler.
Perhaps the best-known of the companies that sell facial recognition technology is the American Clearview AI, already targeted by regulators last year. The latter has built a vast database of faces with images of people from social networks. In 2020, its founder stated in an interview that the system had been licensed to over 600 law enforcement agencies.